Traditional strawberry shortcake is a great example of the evolution of my tastebuds. Or maybe, more accurately, my buds actually had to devolve to appreciate the beautiful simplicity of this dish. The antithesis of this dessert is the strawberry shortcake that I was accustomed to eating while growing up.
Picture an over-processed, upside-down, semi-dish shaped, chewy sponge cake. Now add some strawberries that have been drenched in a horribly sweet, came from a box concoction of thick, jelly-ish red goo. Next we open a container of non-dairy whipped topping and plop it squarely on the strawberry goop.
But I loved it!
And so did every other person I knew.
Oh, misinformed masses!
Well, as I have out-grown my tongues childish proclivity for the super-sweet, my buds are reverting back to a form that can recognize the full worth of a dish that is simple and elemental in its construction.
A scone. Fresh berries. Whipped cream.
That’s it. And it really can’t get better than this.
3 Tablespoons baking powder (make sure it is fresh)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter–chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream,
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
ingredients for assembly and garnish
3/4 cup additional heavy cream for tops
1 1/4 cup additional sugar for tops
zest from 1 orange
4 cups whipping cream
4 pounds strawberries, de-stemmed and quartered
candied orange peel for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, pulse the 1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with the zest from one orange. Set aside for the tops of the scones, reserving 1/2 cup for the whipping cream.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
Toss in the chilled cubes of butter and cut into the flour mixture until the consistency of coarse meal.
Add the cream and buttermilk and gently mix together until mixture comes together. Don’t over mix. The dough will be slightly sticky.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured table or pastry cloth. Gather together, and shape into a 9 inch square about 1 1/2–2 inches thick.
Cut into 9 equal squares with a very sharp knife.
Dip or brush the tops of the scones with the additional 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Make sure you get good coverage.
Sprinkle the orange zest infused sugar over the tops of the scones. Give them a nice coating, but make sure all the sugar gets soaked into the cream. You don’t want any loose sugar on the tops. Add a little more cream if needed.
Place scones on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25–30 minutes, until tops are light golden brown. Remove and let cool completely on a rack.
This recipe gives you 5 nice, finished strawberry shortcakes, considering that the 4 corner scones might not be as big as you might like. If you like the size of the corners, by all means use them, you can probably stretch the amounts of strawberries and cream.
Whip the 4 cups of cream until medium soft peaks form. Adding the reserved 1/2 cup of orange zest infused sugar at the end.
Assemble by cutting each scone in half through the middle, and layering whipped cream, then strawberries, then whipped cream, and placing the top half of the scone on top. Garnish with additional whipped cream, whole strawberry with stem, and candied orange peel.